Going back to school after the holidays can be difficult for most students; after a few weeks of relaxing, eating, and drinking, the prospect of diving back into the routine of studying can be hard to take. As a teacher, it’s important to find ways to motivate your students after their break, whether by setting short term goals, by starting the term with exciting material, or by giving out small tasks that use new media. At the same time, it’s crucial to keep students active, and to tailor work to fit around New Year exams.
It can be necessary to ease students back into work, depending on how long they’ve been away for; try to set up short term goals and rewards for students, which might involve organising a school trip at the end of January or February. In the first week back, explain what you’ll be looking at, as a class, for the next month or so, and set goals that you expect to be completed. Spend the first few days getting back to speed with whatever you were looking at before Christmas, and giving feedback on any work submitted prior to the break.
Get students engaged with the new term by varying the learning resources that you use in class; this might mean showing an extended documentary, or playing online videos that introduce a new subject. You may also want to lead students towards mini quizzes and websites that can complement their learning, while also providing new reading materials and hand outs to set up a new module.
Another way to get students motivated for the New Year is to assign small tasks that can be completed online; this approach is particularly worthwhile if you run blogs and other social media sites through the classroom. Students may post on their Christmas experiences, as well as what they expect to be doing in the year ahead. Other activities might include providing video presentations and mixed media projects based on books they’ve read over Christmas, or any films and television series they’ve enjoyed.
To clear out the cobwebs after Christmas, try to develop class projects that will get students working together and discussing different topics. Start the new term by using open questions and topical news stories to get students thinking about some of the broader issues involved in subjects. Again, think about using new media and blogs to get students to start producing their own content.
Many students will be spending the New Year revising for exams at the end of January, whether for modular work or for resits. Make yourself available for advice, and put on extra tutorial classes if you have the time. If you can, speak to students individually about what they expect from their exams, and ask them what kind of revision they’ve been carrying out during the Christmas break. Revision can get a bit rushed after Christmas, so make sure that students are reassured over asking questions and structuring their revision.
About the Author: Rob James is a primary school teacher in the UK. He finds websites like School Explained are great for improving the relationship between teachers, parents and students alike. Rob can be found online blogging about how to engage challenging students to improving parent teacher relationships.